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Fry Elementary student takes top honors in InvestWrite essay contest

<p>Fry&nbsp;Elementary&nbsp;School fifth grader Katherine Smirnov receives a medal and a stack of prizes presented by Lori Berkes-Nelson (left), President of Econ Illinois, and Dr. Lisa Donnini, InvestWrite National Director. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media &nbsp;</p>
<p>Fry&nbsp;Elementary&nbsp;School principal Dave Younce hoists a trophy presented to the school signifying national recognition for the prize won by fifth grader Katherine Smirnov as Lori Berkes-Nelson, President of Econ Illinois, applauds. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media &nbsp;</p>
<p>Fry&nbsp;Elementary&nbsp;School fifth grader Katherine Smirnov is congratulated by fifth grade teacher Jeanne Gerdisch. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media &nbsp;</p>
<p>Fry&nbsp;Elementary&nbsp;School fifth grader Katherine Smirnov sits with her parents Tatyana and Dmitri Smirnov in front of Project Arrow teacher Sharon Phares and principal Dave Younce, as state and local dignitaries heap praise upon them. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media &nbsp;</p>
<p>Fry&nbsp;Elementary&nbsp;School fifth grader Katherine Smirnov (pink sweater) smiles as she hears her work being described on stage before going up to receive her award. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media &nbsp;</p>
<p>Fry&nbsp;Elementary&nbsp;School Project Arrow teacher Sharon Phares receives a medal and certificate from Lori Berkes-Nelson, President of Econ Illinois, and Dr. Lisa Donnini (right), InvestWrite National Director, as District 204 Superintendent Dr. Kathryn Birkett (left) watches. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media &nbsp;</p>

NAPERVILLE — Fry Elementary School students are bullish when it comes to writing essays about the stock market. For the second year in a row, a Fry student won top honors in the national InvestWrite essay competition.

On Thursday at a surprise assembly, fifth-grader Katherine Smirnov was recognized for coming in first out of 2,000 entries from more than 200 elementary schools. A year ago, the essay from then fifth-grader Rachel Kelly won.

Principal Dave Younce said Fry is the only school in the United States to take first place in back-to-back years, and it is the top school in the state for producing winners.

Indian Prairie District 204 Superintendent Kathryn Birkett had high praises for the fifth-grader. “Katherine you represent the very best of what District 204 has to offer,” Birkett said.

The InvestWrite essay contest is the pinnacle of the Stock Market Game, a program that teaches economics and the understanding of financial markets to students in fourth through 12th grades. For the InvestWrite essay, students are asked to choose a publicly traded company and analyze the company to determine whether or not it will be a good investment for the future.

Katherine’s essay primarily focused on airplane manufacturer Boeing, which is headquartered in Chicago.

For her accomplishment, Katherine gets to take home a digital camera and a computer. Perhaps best of all, she won a pizza party for herself and classmates in teacher Sharon Phares’ Project Arrow class.

Although she was unable to attend the assembly in person on Thursday, state Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, introduced House Resolution 822 on Tuesday honoring Katherine’s accomplishment at the state level.

The InvestWrite essay competition is organized by SIFMA, a foundation which is dedicated to financial literacy and created the Stock Market Game for students.

Lisa Donnini, national director of InvestWrite, commended Phares and likened the teacher to a winning sports coach who is able to bring out the best in athletes.

“Teachers are the backbone of InvestWrite,” Donnini said. “Sharon is a phenomenal teacher.”

Younce said Phares’ winning record in the ranks her second in the country among teachers.

For her efforts, Phares received $750 toward professional development or a classroom gift. The school gets a big trophy to show off in a display case.

Thursday’s ceremony featured numerous special guests, including, representatives from the Indian Prairie School Board, local legislative districts and the City of Naperville.

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